Never leaving Tata’s side

2013-12-14 00:00

FROM the Union Buildings to the final salute over the coffin: Nelson Mandela’s military bearers will accompany him today on his final flight and to his final resting place in Qunu.

The nine senior SANDF warrant officers have been at Madiba’s side constantly this week. They will be on the black-draped Hercules C-130 cargo plane to Mthatha today.

They will carry the coffin at a slow march at Waterkloof air force base and load it on to the plane. A guard of honour will see him off, after the ANC has paid its final respects as a party, also at the base.

The same nine will transfer the coffin to another windowed hearse at Mthatha for the journey to Qunu. The whole route will be lined by soldiers paying their respects.

The bearers, accompanied by eight official pall bearers — generals representing all the branches of the military — will carry the coffin to the grave.

There, they will remove the national flag from the casket for ther last time and lower it into the grave.

The eight pall bearers will remain at the graveside while the Last Post is played by a solo bugler and 16 planes perform a flypast. And then, as the plaintive notes die away across the Qunu hills, the community will know: Madiba is home for good.

The bearers are all senior warrant officers:

Tanduxolo Gogo, Combined Operations

Charles Laubscher, Army

Dan Tshabala, Air Force

Pragasen Moodley, Navy

Fanie Roos, Inspector-General

Raj Narain, Human Resources

Leon Halgreen, Central Management Systems

Mchudu Mbedzi, Army Discipline

The warrant officer in charge is Victor Kgaladi, Army.

The pallbearers at the graveside will all be Majors-general:

Lesley Ford, SA Military Health Service

Barney Hlatshwayo, Operations

Wiseman Mbambo, air force commandant-general

Ntakaleleni Sigudu, Defence Intelligence

Lourens Smith, deputy surgeon-general

Manfred Mabuza, Training

Rear-Admiral Rusty Higgs, Navy chief of staff

Mosiwa Hlongwane, deputy head of the Navy.

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